21 August 2006 One week after a cease-fire between Israel and Hizbollah went into effect, four experts from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today began a five-day mission to Lebanon to determine how the cultural agency can best help the country recover from the devastation caused by the conflict.
“In view of the situation in the field, it is now possible for UNESCO to start assisting Lebanon in its early recovery efforts, particularly with regard to cultural heritage and education,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura.
The experts will meet with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and members of his government, including the culture and education ministers. In addition, the team will visit some of the country’s World Heritage sites, including Byblos, which has been affected by the oil spill from a power station that was hit by Israeli bombs in mid-July.
UNESCO is also focusing on restoring the educational system and providing post-trauma support for schoolchildren and teachers. Two follow-up missions are planned, with one focusing on cultural issues and the other on education, science and communication, Mr. Matsuura said.
The Lebanese government-led early recovery plan will be presented to an international donors’ conference for Lebanon in Sweden on 31 August.